Cinema chain Vue has removed the movie Blue Story from all of its venues following a brawl that broke out at its Birmingham Star City location, it is being reported.
- Read more: Micheal Ward on gritty postcode war drama Blue Story: “We’re not glorifying anything – we’re just showing how it is”
On Saturday night (November 23), a major police incident transpired at the family leisure and entertainment complex in Nechells, Birmingham which was believed to have been sparked by a riot in the Vue cinema.
According to reports, customers were evacuated as emergency services arrived on the scene. The cinema was then closed by Vue managers.
A video sent to BirminghamLive appears to show a fight involving a group of teenagers with a young woman being dragged across the floor.
Five teenagers were arrested during the incident involving up to 100 youths. Two machetes and a knife were seized during the brawl and seven police officers were injured.
West Midlands Police have revealed that those arrested were a girl aged 13, a girl and boy both aged 14 and a 19-year-old man. They were all held on suspicion of assaulting police. In addition, a boy aged 14 was held on suspicion of obstructing police.
Since the incident, Blue Story, which tells the heartbreaking tale of two lifelong friends turned against each other by London’s brutal gang culture, has been removed from all of Vue’s cinemas across the country.
NME called Vue’s customer service hotline and were met with an automated message that said: “We regret that we will no longer be screening the film Blue Story at any of our venues. Should you have a booking for this film, please say cancellation when prompted and a member of our team will be with you shortly to assist you with your booking.”
Two hashtag campaigns have been started on Twitter: #BoycottVue and #NoBlueNoVue. Some sharing the hashtags believe Vue’s decision to remove Blue Story is race related.
“I agree with this #boycottvue – A gang fight happened during a screening of Frozen 2 involving 13 year olds – So @vuecinemas ban a film for 15 year olds that wasn’t being shown during the violent incident. Institutional racism,” said one Twitter user.
I agree with this #boycottvue – A gang fight happened during a screening of Frozen 2 involving 13 year olds – So @vuecinemas ban a film for 15 year olds that wasn't being shown during the violent incident. Institutional racism.
— Eds Theory (@EdsTheory) November 24, 2019
The kids were 12 and your security allowed them to enter the cinema with a weapon to watch Frozen 2. So how isnt Frozen banned instead?
Using Blue Story as a scapegoat isnt it. Ffs
— Zahra 💐 (@AyshaSomali) November 24, 2019
See more responses below:
— another finesse (@REDXLASHY) November 24, 2019
The anti-blackness in this country is just blatant at this point. @vuecinemas needs to take a hard look at itself and ask why #BlueStoryMovie deserves a nationwide ban for something that occurred during FROZEN 2. When they can give a true answer that isn't racist,lmk #BoycottVue pic.twitter.com/zEjMl86Df2
— Nicole Vassell (@nicolevassell) November 24, 2019
VUE is embarrassed that their security allowed boys with machetes into a CHILDRENS movie screening, so now they’re using Blue’s Story as a scapegoat. #boycottVUE
— kleria☔️ (@K5Mendes) November 24, 2019
I see there's a lot of fury against Vue Cinemas using #BoycottVue and it's mainly the black community. Well sod that, I'm a 61 year old white male and I'm with them. I would love to see Blue Story starring Michael Ward. He was brilliant as Jamie in Top Boy
— Steve Wilson (@FonetixWilson) November 24, 2019
Blue Story was written and directed by Andrew Onwubolu, AKA Rapman. Taking to Twitter to share his thoughts on the incident at Star City, he said: “Sending love to all those involved in yesterday’s violence at Star City in Birmingham. It’s truly unfortunate that a small group of people can ruin things for everybody. Bluestory is a film about love not violence.”
Alluding to the cinema ban, he continued: “There were also a few incidents earlier this year with the release of The Joker, it’s always unfortunate, but I hope that the blame is placed with the individuals and not an indictment of the film itself.”
— Rapman (@RealRapman) November 24, 2019
Blue Story star Micheal Ward also commented.
“If you haven’t seen Blue Story yet. Please go and see it today,” he tweeted. “This Birmingham Vue situation has effected what we’ve wanted to achieve but we can still sell out all other cinemas. We don’t need @vuecinemas to prosper. Go watch the best British film of the year.”
If you haven’t seen Blue Story yet. Please go and see it today. This Birmingham Vue situation has effected what we’ve wanted to achieve but we can still sell out all other cinemas. We don’t need @vuecinemas to prosper. Go watch the best British film of the year 🙏🏾❤️
— Micheal Ward🇯🇲 (@onlymikes_) November 24, 2019
Earlier this month, Rapman told NME what he thinks need to be done in order to solve London’s gang violence problem and knife crime epidemic.
“One is to prevent the kids from picking up a knife in the first place,” he said. “You could monitor everyone that gets kicked out of school or suspended – the repeat offenders doing bad things. They should be on a register and the government needs to give them counselling.
“In that counselling, you never know, you might discover why they’re acting out. It could turn out to be a family situation – maybe an older gang member is putting pressure on his younger brother to be like him. With counselling, you could stop that. You could do something to take him off that path before it gets too late. If it’s going under the radar, it’s kind of like abuse and no one knows about it. The kid can’t speak to anyone about it and he’ll end up doing what he’s being pressured into doing.”
NME has reached out to both Vue and the team behind Blue Story for comment.